SBD/August 7, 2014/Franchises

Chiefs Align With Native American Groups In Bid To Ward Off Redskins Controversy

Chiefs officials hope to start rolling out a fan education plan early this season
Chiefs President Mark Donovan and Senior VP/Business Operations Bill Chapin recently met with Native American groups with the goal of "insulating themselves" from the Redskins controversy, which is "part of their grander hope to build a bridge with American Indians instead of engaging in a fight," according to Sam Mellinger of the K.C. STAR. In this "fight ... the Chiefs have found a friend." American Indian Center of The Great Plains in K.C. President & CEO John Learned met with Chiefs execs this week, which "was one of two meetings the Chiefs have had in the last 10 days." Mellinger writes this is "similar to the strategy" used by the Blackhawks and Florida State Univ. The Chiefs "will point to a higher calling in hosting such discussions," as they have an "enormous platform, and if they can help educate some of their fans about the cultural significance of things like war paint and war bonnets, or headdresses, then they’ve done some real good." But this also is "smart business for the Chiefs to build relationships with groups like Learned's." Learned: "We would like to teach about our culture. The Chiefs have the opportunity to teach this, and everybody wins. … The Chiefs are making money off Native American icons. So, yes, it’s a two-way street." Mellinger notes there are "no concrete plans about how this education would look, but Donovan says the team hopes to start rolling it out early this season" (K.C. STAR, 8/7).

LEAVING HIS MARK: In K.C., James Dornbrook conducted a Q&A with Donovan, who discussed his career. Donovan said of being hired as NHL Dir of Sales & Marketing in the late '90s, "I got hired at the right time. Things were getting hot, and we did deals they had never seen before. I was there for about three years before the NFL came and hired me. So I got to the NFL. I had finally made it." He said of the biggest lesson from his career, "I was the grinder who would work harder than you to be better than you, and I benefited from that. It's hard to break away from that. My first couple years here, I was that way, too. I felt a need to prove myself to (Chairman Clark Hunt), to the organization and to the city" (K.C. BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/1 issue).
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